There was an article in Employee Benefit News last week talking about the challenges that employers and health plans face in trying to communicate the impact of healthcare reform. There is massive confusion among employees about how changes will affect them, and health plans have not reacted effectively to combat this confusion.
Some healthcare organizations have stepped up to the challenge. According to Shawn Connors, president of Hope Health, “You need to accept that, whether you like it or not, you’re somewhat in the publishing business. “ Health plans should be stepping up to the plate with a menu of communications to support employers with explaining coverage, the impact of health reform on coverage and to develop and manage wellness plans that save both the employer and plans money. The EBN article cites some compelling statistics from JD Power on current satisfaction with health plans which underscore the importance of communications.
When health plans don’t provide adequate communications, employers are left to fill in the gaps and are often poorly equipped to do so. In many cases, the employers themselves don’t have a full grasp of all the nuances of their health plan (or plans) and most (like the rest of us) don’t have a clear understanding of how healthcare reform will impact their specific company benefits.
This presents an opportunity for professional communicators to step in and provide solution templates along with consulting support to help health plans and individual employers deliver the necessary series of communications to employees. Succeeding in this market will require developing expertise in the HR and healthcare market, or partnering with someone who is already operating in that space. Several experts are referenced in the article “Fight confusion with communication” and others are referenced on the EBN site.
A highly regulated market going through change where communications provide an opportunity to boost satisfaction and save money seems like a good avenue for business starved printers to pursue. Healthy hunting!